Are You Turning Away, Against, or Towards Your Mate?

There are many ways to find a mate in this day and age. Some people rely on meeting others through their local church. Others through their friends and family. And relatively recently, more and more people are starting to meet online. However, regardless of how people meet and connect, making a relationship successful and long-lasting can be tricky. Therefore, it’s essential to be familiar with several concepts to help ensure a covenant, God honoring relationship.

Psychologist John Gottman, Ph.D. discusses several important points on how couples can cultivate deeper connection and intimacy. According to Gottman, couples continually make bids towards one another for connection, closeness, or support. Many people don’t think of their partner’s behaviors in these terms but it can be really helpful to do so because how you respond to these “bids” can significantly impact the level of intimacy in your relationship. When your mate makes a bid, you have the option of turning away, turning against, or turning towards.

1-Turning Away– Turning away refers to dismissing or ignoring your mate’s bid for connection. For example, your partner comes up to you while you are working on your computer and says they would love to put the kids down early so you two could have a great night together. Engrossed in your work, you take a long time to respond and without looking at them you mumble something that clearly expresses you don’t share the same desire or barely even heard what they said. Hurt, the other spouse either says something critical or withdrawals in silence. You just took a withdrawal out of their emotional bank account because you turned away from their bid for connection.

2-Turning Against– Turning against refers to responding with anger in some form towards your mate’s innocent and well intentioned bid for connection. Taking the same example above, you are working on your computer and your partner approaches you saying they would love for you two to have a nice night together because you haven’t in a while. You stop what you are doing and stare at them with disdain, saying something like “All you ever want is time together, it’s never enough.” Obviously, this would be very hurtful to the spouse making the bid and would most likely escalate into a conflict or stonewalling.

3-Turning Towards– Turning towards refers to responding sensitively to your mate’s bid for connection. So, you are engrossed on your computer and your partner approaches you and expresses their desire to have a nice night together. Within seconds you turn to them, make eye contact, and say something like, “That would be wonderful, I’ve been thinking the same thing all day.” This type of statement is the ideal because it acknowledges the partner’s bid for connection and responds in kind, which creates a huge deposit into their emotional bank account.

So, whether you meet your spouse in a more traditional way or online, remember to continually watch for your partner’s bid for connection. Moreover, pay attention to how you respond to those bids to discern if you are turning away, turning against, or turning towards. Also, be sure to discuss these concepts openly with your partner to ensure you both become more aware of the dynamics in your relationship with what types of bids you each tend to make and how you each could respond more sensitively towards those bids to create a deeper sense of closeness and intimacy.